All of this means nothing.

I’ve been playing one song so much that V has begun requesting it.

“Mommy, wanna hear ‘Handbreaker’.”

(The song is called “Dealbreaker.”)

When I’m alone in my car, it’s the first place I go.

I find the vein (turn it up), insert the blade (let the words remind me), and sigh with relief as the blood cleanly runs (cry, and fully let myself feel it).

Each piano chord on the bridge is so well-timed, so bitter, so poignant — and I have it at a volume so excessive, it honestly hurts. Each time she presses the keys, pain enters the wound.

I have to have these micro-grieving sessions, because the rest of the time, I’m working or being a mother (aka, still working).

So it’s those ten to twelve minutes in my car that are my prescription for healing.

Directions: Drive to work and immediately play the song that will cause the most pain possible. Bring your brother’s face to mind and recall the accident, the words that changed your life forever, or the fact that his skin still smelled the same when you kissed his forehead for the last time.

Repeat twice a day until cured.

Warning: It may take years. Or forever. Also, the song may stop working, in which case you will need to seek out another.

On the surface, all I’ve wanted is to get back to work and forget that the birth of the aforementioned child in 1993 cured a decade of loneliness in an instant.

The death of this person in 2019 brought all that loneliness back, with compounded interest.

But my body sniffed out this shallow desire and has decided, Nope, to bed you go. Micro-grieving sessions one month later rendered insufficient. Cue large grieving session.

In other words, I’ve caught two colds in less than a week (or, original cold, which I had beaten, slept for two days and then morphed into mega-monster-cold) and let me tell you, this latest one is unworkable. C is canceling classes and our nanny is in overtime because I can’t even sit on the couch with V and watch a movie.

What’s the difference between feeling pain emotionally or physically?

Some days, I don’t cry, and I feel like I’ve gotten some perspective. Gained some distance. And then I remember how I wrapped his feet in a blanket because I was concerned that he was cold (he wasn’t cold, he was dead), or how what’s left of him fits in a box, or that his girlfriend will have to marry someone else now, and the tears are rightfuckingthere. So close to the surface, like my heart is covered with one sheet of billowy tissue paper, instead of ribs and skin. All you have to do is press on it, and it tears.

“Mommy, wanna hear ‘Handbreaker’.”


“What’s her name?”

“Rachel Yamagata.”

“I wanna hear it.”


She also asks me:

“Mommy, is she sad?”

“What is she talking about?”

“What is she saying?”

Yes, she is sad.

She’s talking about love. And losing someone she loves.

She’s saying, “All of this means nothing, without you.”

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